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Japanese Curry

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This Japanese Curry recipe is a classic comfort food and it always brings me back to childhood. It’s made with mostly mild and sweet flavors, making it pleasing for everyone in the family. The ingredients are easy to find and it’s simple enough to make on any given night. Best of all, this dish makes delicious leftovers that can be easily reheated for an even quicker meal.

beef, potatoes, celery, and carrots in a stew-like sauce on a bed of white rice in a rimmed ceramic bowl

Japanese curry has always been a childhood favorite of mine. It has a distinct, unique, and rich flavor that one can only get when they make this from scratch. This recipe for Japanese curry is one that my mom has made for years and I’m excited to share it with you!

To be honest, if I had to choose one dish that reminds me of childhood and my mom, I would without a doubt say it’s this Japanese curry dish. She made this often but we never grew tired of it because it’s SO good. In fact, many times when my brother and I were given the option to choose dinner, we would always request it. Often times when we came home from college, we would request this as well and bring the leftovers back to school with us.

I finally asked my mom to teach me how to make it because I knew this was one dish I would make forever. It’s pure classic comfort food for me. It makes a great amount and leftovers are even better! You know how some dishes are ‘meh’ the next day? This one is like..awesome. And we always put it over rice because the sauce that coats it is one of the best parts. I always put extra!

overhead image of beef, potatoes, carrots, celery in a stew-like sauce on a bed of white rice with a fork in a rimmed ceramic bowl next to another bowl of the same contents.

What is Japanese Curry?

Japanese curry is a thick curry, unlike the other kinds of curry you may be thinking of, and it is a stew-like consistency. It commonly features a stewed protein (beef or chicken), carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes. This is all served on a plate along with white rice. Traditionally, I don’t think there is celery but my mom always added it so that’s why mine has it.

Different regions and households (like ours) have a slightly different take on curry but the base recipe is generally the same.

What’s the history of Japanese curry?

According to Wikipedia, curry was introduced to Japan in the late 1800’s by the British. The officers brought the spice mix, curry, over to Japan and originally was categorized as Western food as it came from the West.

Over time, Japan adapted their own version of curry and named it karē raisu (curry rice).

S&B, the company that produces my favorite curry powder, developed these curry cubes that is essentially an instant mix for the curry roux so you can easily make Japanese curry at home.

Japanese curry is a staple of Japanese cuisine and culture and today, it extends to many other countries around the world, including many Asian countries. Which makes a lot of sense because my parents are from Taiwan and yet Japanese curry is something they make there in their households!

beef, potatoes, celery, and carrots in a stew-like sauce on a bed of white rice in a rimmed ceramic bowl with a fork next to it. a striped linen towel and a glass of water can be seen

What does Japanese curry taste like?

I think Japanese curry has a very distinct taste and hard to describe. It lends more on the sweet side vs. savory and it’s not like spicy curries you think of when you think of curry. It is like a warm spice. A spice that warms you up like a giant hug. In general, Japanese curry is definitely more stew-like and unlike Indian or Thai curries. It’s actually pretty kid-friendly as it’s not spicy at all, unless you buy the spicy cubes.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chuck roast – Make sure you buy the right cut of meat. This recipe calls for chuck roast. It will yield the most tender dish if you buy the right cut, otherwise, it could turn out hard as a rock and like you’re chewing on some beef jerky! It’s easy to just buy ‘beef stew cubes’ or whatever they’re called in store but don’t. I’ve done it before and it comes out horrible. Chuck roast is the best! Ask your butcher if you can’t find it.
  • Onion
  • Potato
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Beef stock/broth – try to use low-sodium stock or broth. The curry cubes already have a significant amount of salt in it so trying to cut down on salt where you are able is helpful.
  • Curry cubes
S&B golden curry japanese curry cubes

Japanese Curry Cubes

These are the what the curry cubes look like. They come in different levels of heat. Mild, medium, and hot. We typically use mild, which is perfect for kids.

If you can’t find them in your local grocery store (in the Asian aisle), then you can order them on Amazon. Or, if you prefer to make your own from scratch, here is a great recipe for it from Just One Cookbook for the curry roux, which is basically what the cube is. We use the cubes because it’s how my mom has always made it and most Japanese households do the same because it’s so convenient and easy.

overhead image of japanese curry ingredients in a large dutch oven with a wooden spoon

How to make Japanese curry

Sear and cook the meat. In a large pot, sear the chuck roast on two sides until they’re nice and brown and develop a crust. Remove from pot and set aside on a plate.

Cook the vegetables. In the same pot, add the onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the liquid and cubes. Next, add the beef broth and the curry cubes. Add the chuck roast back into the pot then bring the mixture to a boil.

Simmer. Reduce to a low simmer and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until mixture is nice and thick.

Serve. Spoon over a bed of white rice.

Common questions

What to put in Japanese curry? Typically it’s a protein and vegetables (onions, carrots, and potatoes). Again, you can definitely change it up if you wish (like we did by adding celery) but to get the most authentic Japanese curry, I think making it without all kinds of different add-ins first is best!

Is Japanese curry spicy? It can be if you buy the hot level of the curry cubes, otherwise it is not spicy and very mild.

Storage and reheating instructions

This will keep in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. To reheat, use the stovetop or microwave. If you find the mixture too thick, add a little more broth or water.

More Japanese recipe inspiration

Chicken Katsu

Strawberry Sponge Cake

Udon Noodle Soup

overhead image of beef, potatoes, carrots, celery in a stew-like sauce on a bed of white rice with a fork in a rimmed ceramic bowl next to another bowl of the same contents.

Japanese Curry

This deliciously authentic Japanese curry is simple enough to make on any given night. It's made with mostly mild and sweet flavors, making it pleasing for everyone in the family!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 1 pound cubed chuck roast, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, quartered into 1 inch quarters
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into thick rounds
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch long pieces (it’s not in the photo because I didn’t have any on hand but traditionally, we always used it)
  • 2 ½ – 3 cups low-sodium beef stock or broth
  • 2 curry cubes, see notes section below
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Equipment

Instructions

  • In a large heavy-bottom pan, such as a dutch oven, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat then brown chuck roast cubes but do not cook all the way through. Remove from heat and put on a plate and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the onion and sauté until softened.
  • Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes then add the beef stock (start with 2 1/2 cups) until it covers the ingredients. Bring to a boil then add the curry cubes. They dissolve themselves so don’t worry about them. Just throw them in. Add the chuck roast back into the pot. Once mixture comes to a boil, stir, then cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until mixture is nice and thick. If you see the mixture is too thick, add more liquid/beef stock to thin it out but we kind of like it thicker so it’s all preference.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve generously over a bed of white rice.

Recipe Notes

Make sure you buy the right cut of meat. This recipe calls for chuck roast. It will yield the most tender dish if you buy the right cut, otherwise, it could turn out hard as a rock and like you’re chewing on some beef jerky! It’s easy to just buy ‘beef stew cubes’ or whatever they’re called in store but don’t. I’ve done it before and it comes out horrible. Chuck roast is the best! Ask your butcher if you can’t find it.
So the curry cube package has 8 cubes once you break it. It comes as 2 large cubes but at the bottom of the package, you can clearly see lines of where you break them into 4 a pack, if that makes sense. Take a look at the photo. You’ll see that I broke it. When I say ‘two cubes’ in the recipe, I mean two of the broken cubes you see above. If you’re making the curry roux from scratch, I would say 2 cubes is equivalent to 2 tablespoons, but I’m not sure as I haven’t ever done it that way!

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 239 kcal | Carbohydrates: 20 g | Protein: 21 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 52 mg | Sodium: 524 mg | Potassium: 1086 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 4 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: childhood recipes, comfort food

Photography by Eat Love Eats

Recipe Rating




Anna

Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Sorry, I have read all the comments, but am still a little unsure of how much S&B curry to use. I have a 3.5 oz (100g) box of the curry. If I'm understanding you correctly, I should use half of this box. Is that correct? I'm a little unsure because the nutrition facts say the package contains 5 servings. I actually made this before (and my boyfriend, who lived in Japan for a year and is always missing the food) loved it. But I remember grappling with how much curry to add, and now I can't remember what I ended up doing!! Thanks for your help.

Julie

Thursday 19th of October 2017

You should use 2 cubes. In the notes section, it says the box comes with 2 big blocks but then when you break it, it becomes 8 smaller cubes. So from those 8 smaller cubes, I used 2. Hope that helps!

Becca

Sunday 6th of August 2017

I just wanted to let you know that I've made this curry several times and my whole family loves it, and it reminds me of the time I spent in Japan quite a few years ago. I loved the curry then, and I love it now!! Also, I used the link you provided to make the curry roux from scratch (since my son has allergies and I need to know exactly what's in his food!). It has always worked wonderfully with your recipe!

Julie

Sunday 6th of August 2017

So great to hear! Thanks for writing!

Jerry

Friday 24th of June 2016

I used 3. Two was not not quite enough flavor. It was very good. Thank you

Jerry

Thursday 9th of June 2016

My package of curry is divided in 5 sections. How many sections would you suggest?

Julie

Friday 10th of June 2016

I would say 2-3

kelly polizzi

Sunday 4th of October 2015

After reading your description, I'm still not entirely sure if you mean two broken bits from one cube like you have shown or the two cubes you have shown. I'm guessing the two broken pieces is all i need? If so, does the remaining piece keep uncovered? Btw, I have used this recipe before but gave up because i could never get the quanity right and the package comes in japanese grr~ thanks for posting. i'd really appreciate if you'd clear that up for me. Btw I use sirloin tips diced in place of stew cubes in all recipes. very tender.

Julie

Monday 5th of October 2015

Sorry that's confusing. I meant two of the broken cubes I've shown. The remaining half can be wrapped loosely in saran wrap :)